Technology integral to La Grange District 102 students
Jessica Rotstein, an eighth-grader at Park Junior High School, logs into her school Gmail account in her LaGrange Park kitchen to work on a project. | Jane Michaels~Sun-Times Media
Online: In 2011, 92.1 percent of District 102 families reported having Internet access on a home computer. All schools make several computers available before or after school to allow those students opportunities.
In class: The district has desktops in classrooms and laptops on carts so there is one computer available for every three students.
What’s next: The district is investigating the purchase of some Chromebooks for $249, rather than laptops for $1,000, said Al Kirkus, director of technology.
Updated: November 15, 2012 12:02PM
LAGRANGE PARK — Technology helps some students look forward to doing homework.
That’s the word from teachers and administrators in La Grange Elementary District 102 making web-based technology available so students can practice math games at home, read chapters without lugging a textbook, or continue art projects started in class.
Jessica Rotstein of LaGrange Park said it’s easier to work on projects this year with fellow eighth-graders at Park Junior High School.
Fourth- through eighth-graders received their own Gmail account this year through Google Apps for Education, which offers schools additional privacy settings so data isn’t mined for commercial purposes.
With a few keystrokes on the computer in her kitchen, Jessica pulled up her group project on gears and mechanisms from her science, technology, engineering and math lab.
“I can see what everybody else is typing at home,” she said. “We’re learning how to design gears because we’ll be making robots in the lab next trimester.”
Jessica then switched documents to make changes on her research paper focusing on one-room schoolhouses for a unit on 19th century America.
“I have an old version of Microsoft Word at home, so I couldn’t type on a document at school and bring it home,” she said. “But with Google Docs, there’s no problem.”
Al Kirkus, district director of technology, said the integration of technology is important to give students real-world skills, particularly through Google Apps, used in business.
“This prepares them to be ongoing learners and maintain portfolios of assignments and projects they can take with them beyond this walls, like a resume,” Kirkus said.
The district is piloting development of student portfolios so they can take a digital photo of an art project and upload it into the web-based program, as well as enter essays, lab experiments or research projects.
Younger students without Gmail accounts can log into a district portal at home and access the Wixie program, through Tech4learning, to draw, create designs or use stamps to illustrate stories.
In addition, fifth-grade and older students can practice world languages through the district’s access to Rosetta Stone programs, said Lori Gehrke, assistant superintendent for instruction. The program also is used by all English Language Learner students.
“We’re extending the concept of anytime learning,” Gehrke said.